Veteran Wheeling Park squad reloads for 2020 season

WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Park navigated a challenging 2019 schedule to enter the Class AAA playoffs as the No. 6 seed with an 8-2 record. Their postseason run however was cut short by Capital in the opening round.

“We are going to be a senior-dominated football team this year,” said Wheeling Park head coach Chris Daugherty. “Last year we were juniors and partially sophomores. Sometimes that would show its face. Unfortunately, it showed itself in the playoffs. And we didn’t have a very good night.”

Priority number one for the Patriots could very well be to find their new starting signal caller. Alex Dunlevy has moved on to West Virginia State after tossing 30 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions last fall.

“We’ve got two good quarterbacks. Beau Heller has been in the system going on his fourth year. He is a crafty kid. He understands the game. And we have a young quarterback in Brett Phillips that is going to be quality. Who starts? We don’t know quite yet. We haven’t gotten that far into the season.”

Park must replace their top three rushers and Chris Daughtery believes one of their top receivers can step into the backfield.

“We took a running back last year that we felt was very good. We moved him to slot in Stevie Mitchell. We are going to bring him back to the tailback position. A dynamic kid like Stevie is going to be dynamic wherever we put him. We feel that we are going to be very good at that position with Stevie.”

Even though Mitchell is changing positions, wide receiver may be the Patriots’ deepest position on the roster.

“Carson Namack, Sincere Sinclair, Shaheed Jackson, Nate Hairston has a lot of reps and Torrence Walker. We’ve got a lot of kids to choose from in that wide receiver and defensive back area.”

The Patriots welcome back four of their top five tacklers from last fall and starters throughout their offensive line. The defensive line will require some younger Patriots to step in.

“On the defensive line, that’s where we took a little bit of a hit. We are going to be looking at some new faces there, that is for sure.

“I say all the time that I would rather have an experienced team than a talented team. I would like to have experience and talent together. But if I had to choose, I would take an experienced football team. We should have that this year.”

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